AZLE, Texas – Ezle High School is now home to a unique piece of World War II history, thanks in part to an ambitious and caring senior there.
At a campus dedication ceremony titled “Hero Dream, part of the USS Arizona embedded in Pearl Harbor was put on permanent display.
Student Brooke Shin was inspired to honor World War II veterans after approaching one.
An important tragedy like the attack on Pearl Harbor could lose its significance if the legacy of those who died in defense of us is not preserved for the younger generation.
“I want to make sure their memories are kept alive for future generations,” Shin said.
Maintaining memory is Shin’s new mission in life. A high school senior visited Pearl Harbor when she was 11. She fell in love with history and wanted to meet one of the few survivors living from the U.S. Arizona.
Shin met Nicki Stratton’s grandfather, Donald Stratton, one of the last survivors of that fateful day. Their relationship was closer before his death in 2020.
“She had a great relationship with my grandfather, and she really holds on to this story and her in particular,” Stratton said.
On Wednesday in high school, they unveiled a permanent monument: a real creation from the USS Arizona.
“It’s actually a little close to where my grandfather’s battle station was,” Stratton said.
“My high school has part of the USS Arizona, and we’re the first high school in Texas to have part of the USS Arizona on a permanent display,” Shin said.
Other World War II veterans and their families attended the dedication ceremony.
Terry Man Wyatt’s aunt died during the attack. Auntie’s best friend was rescued by Donald Stratton and others, so she wanted to come and respect their legacy.
“We promised these men we’ll never forget Pearl Harbor so we’re here so we’ll never forget,” she said. “The fact that Ezel’s community is taking it upon themselves and has this relic, it means a great deal.”
Families hope it will spur more views to keep the heritage alive.
“I really hope this is the cutting edge of more schools involved in the remnants program, it shares the story, it shares the heritage, it keeps history alive,” Stratton said.